Friday, 29 January 2010

The Phoney War

I love drugs .. or to be more precise being involved in operations to combat their use and supply. My level of expertise centres around the street market drugs mainly crack and heroin, which links into acquisitive crime. I love policing the druggies and putting myself up against whoever is flavour of the month amongst the local so called drug lords. It's a challenge - a game to me - a war that I can never win overall but an opportunity to win a personal head to head. I admit to actually enjoying that feeling when I emerge victorious. There is also a positive kick-back in the knowledge that for a short time the local community will have some respite from having to put up with blatant dealing and all the fears that go with it, but only until somebody else moves in to fill the void.

I don't think we are quite so hot in dealing with the middle class drugs such as cocaine and Ecstasy. I could point you to places where I know that the powder drugs and pills are readily available, but in the whole we ignore it. The past few years we've also been neglecting the street stuff too, all because it's too expensive to tackle properly. Drug offences for reporting purposes are a "victimless" crime and only show on the books for a detection with a prisoner attached.

It's only political pressure that draws a response, be it an explosion in violent crime when a drug related turf war breaks out or a publicised death surrounding a venue such as Leah Betts in Basildon. Central funding might then be forthcoming if you make a good case for it. If this doesn't happen then you'll have to put up with queues of addicts waiting for their fix on your stairwell.

Now I don't have a past involving drugs, apart from being administered an opiate years ago for a broken leg. It definitely hit the spot for me and I still crave that feeling now - I know what to ask for if in severe pain and was extremely disappointed to have been turned down for Pethidine on my last injury.

I understand the street addicts many of whom I really like, and many have a strong moral code even if they are thieves. Most will shoplift to fund their habits and don't see themselves as serious criminals. They hate to be classed the same as burglars and robbers and would class themselves as honest thieves if that makes sense. As I'm on first name terms with many of these still after many years, the extra funding for drugs rehabilitation isn't working as far as I can see.

I like to think I have a feel of what's going on locally where I work. Most of the kids who were committing robberies or burglaries or vehicle crime are moving into dealing where even as a runner they can make 80 pounds a day. Once they make a stake they start up their own operations to keep the cycle going. Their addict customers continue shoplifting almost unabated to feed their habits and also keep the cycle going. I can't remember the last time a prolific shoplifter got sent to prison round my way so the shops lose thousands, the police win as we are not called to report all shoplifting's and benefit from the kids moving into dealing and society loses as the streets become a mess.

I don't understand the other spectrum where the middle classes go out and have a snort or pop a pill or two. Is it the danger of living on the edge? of taking a walk on the wild side? of being - well naughty? I don't discriminate and will nick either if they come into my sights but policing today means it's likely to be the street stuff that gets my attention.

I have done the other side when the political pressure was demanding action against the acid house phase in the early 90's. It was piss easy to cruise round venues that had these promotion nights and stop and turn over people in their cars outside. The percentage hit rate for possession of Ecstasy was high and occasionally we'd hook a bigger fish. I recall nicking one lad and we'd gone back to search his bedroom on a Section 18. He had banknotes piled up and it must have been a 12 inch pile. Thousands of pounds which today would have been seized as proceeds of crime. The circumstances of his case meant it was restored. As they went on all night it was even worth early turn stops on a Saturday or Sunday morning as they drove home. I had a particularly good seizure of LSD from doing this.

I'd even worked plain clothes in one venue when we were going to raid it. A few of us were put in to spot the dealers. Drugs and water were order of the day for most patrons and I was approached several times by people wanting to score. Passing myself off as a prospective buyer myself all you had to do was to ask the eager punter to let you know who had stuff for sale. The naive suckers would come back and tell you who had what and the prices, bloody nice people. I was also complimented on my trendy shirt several times by young ladies who were obviously on it. The raid was a waste of time by the time we'd done it as the dealers we pointed out were sold out. A sweep around the floors showed the extent of the drugs misuse, which was all that was needed to eventually shut it down. Things would be done differently today if we did anything at all. If I am to be totally honest the hundreds of patrons although "on it" big time caused less trouble than if they'd been tanked up on booze. A really chilled raid ...

10 comments:

Blue Eyes said...

Interesting!

Stressed Out Cop said...

Don't tell me you were there ..

Blue Eyes said...

Nope, never went to the place I think you are talking about!

Blackratty said...

Ever been to a punch up at a rave. Everyone there tends to be chilled and cool unlike the local boozer.

Merlin said...

Hmm. Very true that a lot of the kids who once would have been into more visible crime are now concentrating on making their way in the drugs game. Never really thought about it until I read this post - but it certainly fits with what I know. The ones in the middle ranks tend to keep out of the limelight & avoid attracting police attention - which their housebreaking opposite numbers don't seem too bothered about (as long as they don't actually get convicted).

Trouble is, for Mr & Mrs Public, the visible consequences of the criminality are unavoidable. And in a longer-term "keeping the country going" view - how the hell are youngsters ever going to get on the road to a job & a proper life when there is better money to be made in being a runner - as SOC points out, this is a good wad - & for a tiny risk. I try telling them that it's just wrong, but that's a cr&p argument & I know it. Now, if I could say "Yea, good cash, but if you get caught - & you probably will - you're looking at a couple of years of very hard time"..... In the absence of getting tough (which I know isn't going to happen), surely it's time to look at another way.

Controversial, I know, but I'm more & more convinced of the case for legalisation & putting the b&st&rd Mr Bigs & Mr Getting-Bigs out of business. OK - that's a cat-among-pigeons comment, but for damn sure the current approach is not working.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand the other spectrum where the middle classes go out and have a snort or pop a pill or two. Is it the danger of living on the edge? of taking a walk on the wild side? of being - well naughty?

Because it makes you feel good for a while and makes a change from your humdrum life, nothing more. Same reason people go out and get trollied in the town centre pubs every weekend.

allcoppedout said...

The damage done with drugs is often to the poor sods who live near dealers and the trash who open their homes to others to use the shit. You'd think test purchase raids would bottom out pretty quickly, but they don't.
Proper concern with anti-social crimes would sort a lot out. Cops show willing but local authorities are generally useless.

Stressed Out Cop said...

Allcoppedout

The dealers don't fear the police -they only fear other dealers .. that says it all.

Only one way evidentially to deal with them but the cost of those ops means the money goes elsewhere to meet other targets.

Internal markets kills us - I thought we did intelligence led policing ... it's very much cost led ... 30 years ago it was just a good job that needed doing and would get done.

Hogday said...

Good post SoC. I totally agree with many points raised. Drugs prisoners were a doddle. When I arrived in `the counties` and brought in several a week, they thought I was bucking for a drug squad aide. Nothing could have been further from my mind. I saw street dealing busts as very much a `uniform` thing. No badly affected user could really want that life, surely? Thats why I was 100% behind rehab schemes. If the old bill were serious about this, then D squads would be ten times their current size. Plus I've never been attacked by a stoner but many times almost incurred serious damage from those juiced up on alcohol. QED? maybe?

Dave said...

Yep, I used to drive a minicab full time - days in the week, overnights at weekends. I only ever got trouble at night from the drunks - the pill heads were always, always lovely and the coke heads just annoyingly chatty.